New marine species found in New Zealand

By Email author - Tue, 24 May 2011 08:20:00 GMT
New marine species found in New Zealand

A research team led by Auckland Museum has been able to collect several new species, including a pipe fish which, according to researchers, looks very much like a 'straightened-out seahorse'.

The expedition team, which includes scientists and researchers from both New Zealand and Australia, have also recorded a zebra lionfish, a blackspot sergeant, a shark, a tropical goatfish and a tropical banded eel all of which are new species in New Zealand

This is the largest scientific expedition in New Zealand exploring the little known Kermadec Islands, including Raoul Island which is a volcano that erupted in 2006.

This group of subtropical islands is over 1000 north east of New Zealand's main islands and has enjoyed marine reserve protection status for the last two decades.

The expedition has also been researching species on land and the scientists have found some new terrestrial species. Botanist Dr Peter de Lange, who works for the Department of Conservation, has identified three filmy fern species that are believed to be new to the Kermadec Islands.

Auckland Museum marine curator Dr Tom Trnski told ''We have two species that I'm pretty confident are new to science, a little left-eye flounder and a pipe fish''.

Dr Trnski believes that the pipe fish, which is a little white fish that has very striking spots of orange across its body, is a very important scientific find.

Another fish that has been discovered is a saddled snake eel which has developed a way of mimicking a dangerous sea-snake with its dramatic stripes in white and black, in the hope that predators will avoid eating it.

''Every dive we make has the possibility of finding creatures new to the Kermadecs, new to New Zealand and even new to science'' says Dr Trnski. The team now needs to verify that these species have not already been discovered anywhere else in the world.

The research team is sending material from their investigations around the world so that scientists can identify them and confirm that they really are new species.

You can follow the official Kermadec Expedition Daily Blog for the latest news and updates.

Top Image Credit: Small Saddled Snake Eel © Copyright Auckland Museum.